In the modern sense, "family values" refers to the way families relate and engage with one another both politically and socially. Family values have existed as long as there have been families, but in the 16th century those values were most clearly determined and enforced by religion. In the 16th century, people of the Western world gleaned most of their family values from the Anglican, Catholic or Protestant churches and from religious scholars of the time.
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The Patriarchal Western Family Value
Scholars of the 16th century suggest that families of Western societies rallied around and were essentially led by a patriarchal figure. Thus, families were male-dominated in most of Western culture with a male head-of-household and property passing to male offspring. Some cultures, such as in Portugal, offered shared inheritance for marriage partners and offspring.
Sixteenth Century Marriage and Family Values
While marriage customs vary slightly between cultures, as do the laws that govern them, in Western society, families valued women in more of a literal sense. In most Western countries during the 16th century, a woman entered into marriage accompanied by a dowry, or "bride price," payable to both the groom and the groom's family. It essentially represented the disinheritance of the bride's family.
The Values of Sex Education for Medieval Families
The overall attitude toward sex during this time was hostile, and this bled into family values concerning sex. Generally, families were taught under religious doctrine that copulating under the stimulus of desire was sin, while copulating strictly for the goal of procreation within the sanctity of marriage was not sin. Simultaneously, families of the time period were often known to share a single bed, and youth engaged in courtship during the late 16th century could bundle together with a board between them to spend the night together with the family.
Sixteenth Century Values Concerning Child Rearing and Children
Both Jewish and Christian people of Western Culture agreed that children needed a firm hand and discipline, which included corporal punishment (child abuse). At the same time, children were viewed as beings who required nurture and protection to thrive and evolve. Children who needed "corrections" by their parents were encouraged by scholarly manuals of the times to pray, and the parents themselves were encouraged to correct children with words before engaging in corporal punishment.
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- "The Six Bookes of the Commonweale"; Jean Bodin; 1606
- "Journal of Sex Research"; Sex Education in Medieval Christianity; Vern Bullough; August 1977
- "Journal of Social History"; The Original Bundlers; Yochi Fischer-Yinon; Mar. 2002
- "Journal of Early Modern History"; Dowry or Inheritance?; Jutta Sperling; Aug. 2007
- "Journal of Social History"; Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Child-Rearing; Kathryn Sather; June 1989